Disclaimer: Don't own it so don't look at me funny. I'm just passing the time.

S

"The House-Elves are scared witless of feeding that…that creature!"

"Hagrid has assured us many times Fluffy is quite pleasant, my dear." Albus Dumbledore responded calmly. Truth be told he'd had practice with the same conversation; strangely enough it seemed to come up weekly, right about the time someone had to check on the Stone's protections.

"Fluffy?" Was always the strangled disbelief. "Really, Headmaster, housing that…that beast in a school full of children is just calling for trouble. The Weasley twins alone have tripped the proximity alarms twice during the holiday break."

"We have no proof it was them." He reminded her, treacherous twinkle entirely too bemused.

"Don't you give me that look, Albus." Minerva reprimanded with enough ire to remind Albus of his much put upon mother, Pereny. "I know full well it was them. Even by their standards they've been nothing but trouble since term started. And this is not even taking into account that cursed Mirror you insist on dabbling with. For Merlin's sake what gave you the brilliant idea something that drove the majority of its owners mad belonged at all in a school full of children?"

Times like this she fully agreed with the common consensus held concerning just how sane Albus Dumbledore really was. Oh, Minerva fully acknowledged him to be a great man and powerful wizard but sometimes she could not help but think him completely daft.

"I don't think I even want to know what mad plot you have brewing but I want that Mirror moved!" Minerva finished with an exasperated huff. She knew the Mirror's history quite well, having researched it the moment it was brought into her school. And it absolutely terrified her should an overly-curious student stumble over it. The Mirror was a pretty thing but it could not be dismissed harmlessly; it was treacherous to the unwary. Men had wasted before its reflection, ensnared in dreams and fantasies.

"Tell me, my dear, have you ever looked into it?" The infernal man was never one to answer outright.

She stiffened fiercely. "I value my sanity entirely too much to indulge in such foolishness."

"Then you are a smart woman. The Department of Mysteries believes that to look into its depth is an invitation to madness. All too often our greatest desires are our greatest regrets. Given the choice of harsh reality or a dream world, not all of us would be strong enough to turn away."

She eyed the Professor carefully. Hesitantly she asked, "Have…have you taken a look?"

"Alas, at times I let my curiosity rule me too strongly. "

"And what did you see?"

He was quiet for a moment. And then he twinkled, "Lemon drops, my dear."

Hiding her incredulity, she straightened her robes. "Honestly, times like this you do nothing to dismiss rumors of your questionable sanity. I haven't forgotten, Headmaster. When can I expect the Mirror to be moved?"

"Sometimes, my dear, the hardest thing to see is that which is right before your eyes."

She could only refrain from huffing in exasperation.

Two hours later Minerva was not entirely surprised to realize the Headmaster had sidestepped her questions completely.

S

Your father left this in my possession. It was time it was returned to you.

A friend.

It was one of those odd Wizarding cloaks, intricately stitched in shadows and deceptively bright colors. Harry, who opened the belated gift left on his Ravenclaw bed, eyed the thing warily.

Cursed goblets and enchanted mirrors; bloody-minded stairs and mischievous armor suits. Wizards were certainly daft enough to charm their apparel.

And still the cloak beckoned to be touched. To see if it still carried the scent of his father; to be flung in the air, alight with all that useless anger that never truly went away. Daddy's gone and it wasn't okay.

He studied the short note, delicately penned words that were written with old world grace. And wondered if it was all a joke. See if the Ice Prince of Ravenclaw would cuddle a piece of cloth and crack the armor he wore. He wondered if it was an attack of a different sort; jinxed and hexed for a Boy-Who-Lived that never truly existed. But he was still young and for all the caution in the world all he could do was stuff it at the bottom of his trunk, a remnant of a man called Father.

"Bloody hell, Harry!" A boy noisy exclaimed as he dropped a clatter of clothes and sweets on an already cluttered bureau. "Guess fame really does count for something."

"…Goldstein."

"Merlin…" The boy breathed, twitching hands rising half-heartedly. "I can't believe I'm actually seeing one for real."

Harry eyed the other boy. "What exactly are you all exited about?"

"Don't you know? Someone sends you the bloody brilliant cloak and you don't even know?" Needless to say Harry was less than amused at the boy's incredulity. Especially with Goldstein standing right there with that stupid grin that should mean something only it didn't. So the feeling crept over him like a slow tide, a nasty sullenness. It shouldn't be forgotten, Harry had never been a nice boy to begin with. Decked in magical strength could only make him an even more unpleasant child.

"Well…" Goldstein coughed in the horribly silent room. "…well, it's an Invisibility Cloak."

Harry eyed both the boy and cloak with slight distaste. "If it's an Invisibility Cloak, why can I see it?"

Goldstein lightly flushed. "I…I don't quite know now that you mention it. Logically it should be activated by heat…but that doesn't sound right. It's made from Demiguise hair but it doesn't quite work the same way, now…"

Ravenclaws. If given half-a-chance they would deliberately let themselves get tumbled by their own tangents.

Harry sighed as the other boy mused. Pulling the cloak up to eye level he could see silver threat stitched meticulously into odd runes he only vaguely recognized. Flipping the cloak Harry flung it over an unsuspecting Goldstein.

"Now that really is something." He murmured, odd spluttering being the only sign he wasn't alone. Snapping it back revealed a ruffled Goldstein.

"What was that for?" The boy complained. He might be more than a little intimidated by Harry-bloody-Potter but that didn't mean Anthony Goldstein was a pushover.

"It's called a test drive." The younger boy drawled, voice light with amusement, as he folded the cloak into his trunk.

"Err…right." Goldstein coughed again under unusual green eyes. "Anyway, thanks for the sweets. Gave my mum a right coronary when Harry Potter sent me a holiday gift—never mind we've been bunking together for a few months."

Harry nodded dismissibly. Goldstein frowned, unconsciously pouting. Somehow or other his roommate always managed to irritate him. For Merlin's sake he was a Goldstein! So why was it that the Muggle-raised Boy-Who-Lived always managed to make him feel like he was playing the younger boy court, jocking to find favor in green eyes? And as much as he reminded himself not to he already knew he'd be acting the same way the next time Harry Potter talked to him. Huffing he turned away, all the more irritated because of the distinctly amused glance tacked onto his retreating back.

And still there was something about Harry Potter that called him back for more.

S

"Honestly, sometimes I wonder how immature boys can get." Hermione grumbled as she nearly slammed her books on the library table. Only the odd respect she gave her school books prevented her from tossing them with any ease.

Harry glanced at the empty table he had been occupying and raised an eyebrow at the girl. Unless she'd been cursed silly he was the wrong sort to have part of any conversation the girl had in mind.

"Not you," she nearly snapped. "Finnegan and Weasley—the one in our year—are acting like…like complete gits! And Neville! I was only trying to help—there certainly wasn't any need to be rude to me."

Harry wondered if she'd consider him rude if he told her to shove off. He'd been reading.

"Those gits don't have to be so cruel to Neville—it just takes him a bit longer to figure the material out. I-I tried, I tried to stop them and Neville…Neville just gets this awful look on his face and tells me to mind my own business. Honestly!"

It was a wonder such a know-it-all could be so utterly blind.

"I don't want to think about it anymore…So what are you reading?"

Not something he was keen on sharing with anyone. He had a feeling she'd disapprove. The creation of golems wasn't something likely to sit easy with anyone.

"Longbottom is fat."

"That's uncalled—!"

"I'm making a point. Longbottom is fat, he's nearly always the last one to figure things out, has horrible confidence, for all purposes a magically-weak pureblood, and the least obvious 'Gryffindor' in the lot. Thanks to you he now has a girlfriend to defend him. He's an eleven-year old boy; what did you expect?"

Hermione gapped at him for a second before blushing hotly. "I was only trying to help…"

Harry gave the girl one last look before pulling out his Potions text.

"Oh, no you don't! You didn't come to dinner last night and you certainly aren't going to make it a habit. Pack your books, dinner's about to begin."

"…what?" If he'd been anyone else Harry would no doubt be gapping.

Still flushed, she continued. "It's time for dinner."

"I'm not hungry."

"That's no excuse to keep skipping meals! Now, you either come with me or I stay with you but I swear it's going to become awfully annoying, awfully quick."

He could help but stare at the girl as she closed his books, shuffling them till they made a neat pile. Pulling them back to him he stuffed them in his book bag before she could see any titles. "Fine."

Hermione beamed.

By the time Harry was sitting in the Ravenclaw table he remembered why he'd avoided dinner to begin with.

Slytherin table was looking at him oddly. More specifically, Lestrange and some equally annoying fools. And it was only the third day since semester began. Harry had a feeling things would only get more difficult from then on. And Flint was signaling him.

"Something the matter?"

Thoughtful eyes turned to the speaker, acknowledged Padma's concern with a blink. "Nothing."

Padma huffed, "Then stop looking so…so…"

"Like you're figuring out a way to blow up the Great Hall to see if the House Elves really do have hidden passages down there." Goldstein accused from besides her.

Padma paused and considered. "That sums it up nicely."

Harry figured it best to ignore them, settling into a vaguely amicable state.

S

"Potter! A word." Flint neatly commanded, signaling the younger boy to break away from the slowly moving masses that were dispersing into the various Houses.

Years of having to slip into the background for one reason or another allowed him to maneuver to the edge of a particularly large mesh of Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws.

As he trailed the older boy Harry's hand neatly skimmed his wand-holster, taking a comfort he didn't quite understand in the phoenix-wand. Flint was a generally interesting fellow and someone Harry didn't at all mind listening to but that didn't mean he was about to follow the boy willy-nilly. If worse came to worse Flint would be the first person to learn of Harry's more unusual talents.

"In here."

Harry spied the unused classroom Flint had opened, eying it warily from the doorway. Even as he walked in his mind shifted, crystallizing instincts that were about the only thing Harry had ever fully trusted.

Silently the younger boy waited as Flint paced agitatedly for a moment before taking a seat on one of the many desks pushed against a wall.

"Right now Hogwarts is trying to get a court order to ban the Daily Prophet from printing the documented effects of a Killing Curse on the survivors."

Harry didn't blink for a moment, thoughts spiraling as names and facts shifted.

Malfoy…magic…handicaps…Healer...Pomfrey? The other one...Purebloods…war…bigotry…DANGER!

Magic rumpled inside of Harry, echoed eerily by the day's fierce winds, so strong had they grown.

"And?"

Flint exhaled harshly. "It doesn't take a genius to figure out who survived a killing curse! You're…what's wrong with you?"

The younger boy's face changed, though how Flint could tell even he didn't know. Green eyes remained remote, none of his features betraying any agitation or anger never mind fear.

"You already seem to know a great deal…Haven't you an idea?"

"No one is exactly eager to tell a schoolboy, you know. But it's nearly impossible to keep this kind of gossip quiet. Hogwarts will likely get their court ban by dawn but it doesn't mean those with money in the right places haven't figured out at least that some Healer study was performed on you and there's something wrong with you.

"I've told you time and time again, there are people here who won't hesitate to curse you in the back if they think there's so much of a change they'll get away with it."

"You're awfully concerned with my situation…" Harry mused dryly, still impassively amicable and just as bland.

For the first time Flint's face betrayed his anger, "You idiot! Don't you see….Gods! Why must everyone be so stubborn? You've so much potential—Merlin knows, you've probably more than me! And it doesn't mean shit if you don't even survive to be old enough to do anything with it!"

And Harry blinked, stunned at the completely unexpected turn. In the back of his mind he'd prepared himself to hurt Flint if he should turn against him but…he hadn't quite foreseen this…concern.

"You're—You're worried about me?!"

Flint twitched violently, whether at Harry's incredulity or at his own emotional outburst it was hard to say.

But Harry could only say one thing, "Why?"

"Merlin give me patience." The boy muttered irritably. "I thought you of all people should have realized—gods!—You're so set on only seeing the future you've turned away from the past…you idiot!...Our parents and their generation wasted their lives fighting a war of principles, running from their neighbors and shitting money to make everyone look the other way. Our whole society has been hoping on one foot while ducking the gallows as it wallowed. Well you know what? I won't let my future sing the same tune! I won't let the Circle fall into another sycophantic bundle of useless fools. We've so much talent! All of us have so much! And you—gods—whatever deficiency doesn't change the fact that practically all the first-years will jump if you so much as find the sky interesting. We don't have to be trapped in the same feuds that have taken everything that we should be. So this isn't the time to play games with me! I want to know what's going on."

Needless to say Harry gaped as Flint lost his top, as some would say.

And Harry looking at the flushed Flint (who'd never found many reasons to lose his composure) found the wish to say something, something that sounded suspiciously like the truth.

Harry talked, and hoped both for his sake and Flint's that it wouldn't end badly. Because Harry, despite his age and inexperience, knew that he would make the older boy pay if things did go sour.

"You understand the principle of magical wavelengths? How every type of magic exists on a specific spectrum and how wizards are naturally in tune, able to manipulate those energies? In theory Muggles are connected to some of those wavelengths—however faintly—and it's because of that that wizards are able to cast magic on them. The Healer study done on me suspects that the Killing Curse acts by severing those connections, among them being such delicate things as 'soul'. It wouldn't take more than a jar in any which way for most everyone to die from the shock. Well the Killing Curse did a number on me—though they still don't know how I survived. It severed some of the connections I should possess. Most magical manipulations that fall under Charms and Defense are beyond me."

Flint's face was open with its calculation, smart enough to know that it wasn't just that. "But what does it mean?"

Harry shrugged, eyes glinting with a strange intensity. "It means I can't curse you or shield myself...but I am not as weak as some would think…"

Quietly unclasping his wand he raised in the older boy's direction, no need to reveal the fact of just how irrelevant the instrument truly was. With a jerk of his wrist, the desk Flint was sitting on erupted in a flurry of twisting wood, gnarled hands of splinters poised and frozen just millimeters away from two unguarded wrists, their sharpness fine enough to sever some very important veins. To his credit, Flint reigned in his shock enough to stifle any impulse that would have turned the situation bloodier than it needed to be.

"Ah…I s-see." Flint finally coughed as the wood retreated seamlessly into the desk.

"I'm still more magically powerful than your average first-year, certainly talented enough, and still connected to some if not all of the magical channels, however faint the connection may be."

Unsurprisingly Flint decided to stand up after that. Quietly the older boy mused over the new information. "And potentially more powerful than you should have been…I think…it's the difference between hitting someone with a large surface like a mallet or a pinprick like…that thing you just did now. The mallet will leave a big bruise and maybe break a bone if you do it right but the pinprick will stab you and kill you if you aim right."

Harry grimaced at the bloody analogy but nodded his agreement.

"So I'm right?" Flint looked both triumphed and unsettled by the fact. "That's what you did to Lestrange that day, isn't it? You could have hurt more than his pride had you wanted to…"

"You'll keep quiet about this?" Harry asked but Flint, seeing the first-year, knew it was decidedly in his benefit to do as the boy wished.

"Sure." Flint finally shrugged. "No one will learn any of this from me, if that is what you want. Still, you should be aware there are some who'll think you have a weakness now. They'll come to exploit it as soon as they feel confident."

Harry nodded once again, letting the matter settle as being inconsequential. "And I'm not a very…nice person when I have a reason to mind."

"You've a hell of a venom in your bite, Aspling." Flint laughed, ruffling the younger boy's hair as he left, laughing some more as the Ravenclaw twitched at the contact. "Night, Aspling."

S

Flint remained amused whenever he saw the younger boy; something Harry was apt to roll his eyes at. Still, neither made any effort to stop the gossip running among their peers. So both boys watched whose faces betrayed their calculation, their sympathy, their fear, or even their maliciousness.

Both boys also had very good memories.

Still it was annoying to be under even more attention, however subtle some his older peers thought they were being. And while the general population remained oblivious there were plenty of individuals with new reason to watch him.

So it should be unsurprising that Harry took up late-night wandering, made infinitely easier by the Cloak he made himself put on. And it was because of this that he eventually came to a certain room whose very air sang a very odd magic. And he saw a Mirror, innocently placed and all the more troublesome for it.

He let his curiosity win and stared at the Mirror, willingly jumpy nerves to look at his reflection calmly, instincts flaring at how unsettling the situation truly was.

His face stared back at him, neatly combed hair drifting into eyes and obscuring a rather infamous scar. A slender face, impassive green eyes, and an awkwardly thin body that could only belong to a still growing child.

Unease bit at his throat, a disquieting feeling that could not be explained rationally. But really, an empty room save an ornate mirror was reason enough to ruffle him. It was a magical castle after all. The mirror itself seemed to beckon him forward and for that reason alone Harry wanted to order disobedient feet to turn away.

It was foolishness to look. He knew it; knew it the second two ghostlike hands settled on his mirror-twin. They were the oldest incarnation of their images he'd seen to date; faces fully filled out and eyes wiser with life. They were the could-be's of a reality that hadn't involved their deaths, a man and woman who'd lived to become more than children playing at games they couldn't have fully understood.

"Mum."

Green eyes smiled at him; a proud mother, serious and quiet with a decidedly fierce streak in her.

"D-Dad."

Speckled brown eyes, a crookedly mischievous smile that had never gone away.

Harry stared at them. Met identical green eyes as her face leaned down, a faint kiss planted where his scar should be. Soundless lips moved,

"Harry…"

It wasn't fair.

…a faint wind scattered dust mites.

Lily never really became a woman. How could a twenty-two year old young woman know what life was about?

…frost spread like a delicate spider web over age-colored stone walls.

James wasn't a father. Not to the child who supposedly took after him and not to the boy who didn't understand magic like his son should have.

…faint breaths drifted in a sudden chill.

They weren't a family. No mummy, no daddy; just a bigoted uncle and his dreadfully blind family. Scared adults who didn't understand magic left with an infant they should never had been given.

…stone groaned as vicious ice crystals formed on every available crevice. Groaning…they expanded.

Years and years when a boy was less than real. Days when eyes would skip over him and he'd have the horrible doubt he didn't exist; hadn't survived the so-called crash that had taken his parents. Just another ghost playing in a Dursley induced misery.

…His mum's face continued to smile even as frost covered the mirror surface. Face distorted beneath the thin veneer of ice.

He didn't want to see anymore. He'd learned all he needed to. They had fought against a dark wizard and they had died. They were his parents and they had left him with a useless crown, empty praise for a deed that didn't mean anything to him.

"You're dead." Harry forced out through numb lips. "You died and you haven't any right to do this to me."

…in the hallway torches flared once before dying, a bitter wind snuffing the corridor.

"You don't get to do this." Sharp nails bit into his palm, warm-blood-scalding-freezing-flash. "You're GONE!"

The Mirror screeched, fine cracks radiating across their faces.

It was only a second of stunned surprise.

"Harry…" The Mirror-Mother warned, green eyes wary as they stared into him. "Run…"

Harry stepped back and only stopped when his back was poked by the doorknob. Instinct warned him things had taken a dangerous turn. Something had changed. Something was wrong. He wasn't a hero. And he most certainly wasn't going to stick around and find out.

Harry ran.

The Mirror shattered.

From the corner of his eye he could see arcs of blinding magical energy sear the walls, shattered stone stinging every exposed surface. The air smelt of ozone and the biting lights only grew. There was blood on his cheek where propelled debris had cut him. All around him the stone trembled. He flinched as the corridor's high glass windows shattered, sparkling glass raining down with cruel intention.

He ran.

"Behind me! Boy, hide behind me!" A well-dressed portrait roared at him.

Harry didn't think about it. The magic was building and Harry didn't know if he could outrun it. He saw the fleeing image of a pale-faced wizard before a trick cupboard was slammed open. Even as he leapt into it, burning thin tendrils of wild magic seared his back, slamming him into the opposing wall. A second later the cupboard door banged shut.

In the darkness Harry shook alongside the castle. The scent of ozone and coppery blood settled around him, suffocating in its intensity.

Outside wild magic crackled with abandon. The portrait of Sir Graham du Jouge had only a second to seal the passage behind him before he was completely obliterated. Elsewhere startled Prefects and Professors steadied themselves as the ground trembled. A few were near enough windows to see the cloudy sky flare as wild magic dissipated. Hogwarts' wards trembled, torches and fireplaces flickering with surges of magic.

And like that it was over. The wards settled, most students having never realized there was cause for alarm to begin with.

S

"…this corridor, Minerva."

"The Mirror…?"

"…You mean to say a Mirror is responsible for all this infernal mess?" A sharper voice snapped.

"Mirrors' broken have a way of bringing about terrible luck."

Coughing echoed along the eerily silent corridor. It was surprising how much noise actually permeated Hogwarts when one took into account restless suits of armor, chattering portraits, and wandering ghosts.

"Whoever did this no doubt met a world of bad luck. There isn't even a portrait left in this area."

"…Look at this—broken glass…it's been melded together."

"Exactly what type of Mirror has the power to shake Hogwarts' wards?" Someone bit out.

"…the Mirror of Erised…"

"…!"

"Dear Merlin, the enchantments on that thing alone…"

"…Do you…do you think a student could have been caught in this?"

A sigh.

"…The Prefects are making the headcount even now….we won't know till then."

Several footsteps echoed along the barren hallway.

"…Could this have been an attempt on the Stone? The Mirror was supposed to be used as part of the enchantments guarding it."

"Nothing can be ruled out at this stage…"

"…Is it…?"

"Can you see?"

"Shattered. Not so much as a splinter left."

"Look at the wall…Solid ward-stone smashed to pieces."

"…Yes…the wards lay most heavily on the outer walls. Unfortunately the inner walls haven't the same protection."

"We were lucky the damn blast didn't do more damage than this."

"…You call this luck?"

"No." A heavy pause. "I'd call it blessed luck if a student wasn't caught in this disaster but knowing fate it seems most likely an idiotic Gryffindor would have chosen this night to disregard the rules."

"There's no need for such morose thoughts, Severus."

"…They're entirely realistic."

"…Blood…"

"Blood alright, wizard's blood."

"…surprising anything could have survived the blast."

"The power of blood should never be dismissed lightly. Even shed unknowingly it was the potential to be dangerous."

"Combined with the magic unleashed this night…"

"…a student…"

"We'll need Poppy at her sharpest. Merlin help us if the boy doesn't survive."

"…infernal Potter curiosity…"

Soot-covered and unconscious, Harry Potter was found in a pool of his own blood and far too pale for anyone's peace of mind.

S

"For Heaven's sake, there isn't anything else I can do. The child needs to go to St. Mungo." A woman with deft hands finally snapped.

Her audience, an older gentleman, peered at her from around half-moon spectacles. "You know as well as I do Poppy, the boy is far too vulnerable as he is to be placed in the care of unknown wizards."

Both adults glanced at the unconscious boy as he whimpered, a restless shift no doubt igniting the network of vicious marks alongside his back. Poppy padded the boy's fine hair before glaring at the Headmaster.

"Take a good look at these marks Albus for they will scar the child if you continue to refuse him the help of professionals."

Albus sighed tiredly. "My dear, you are one of the best Medi-witches in Britain; you've trained a good portion of the Healers in St. Mungo as it is. What help can they offer that you cannot?"

Poppy gritted her teeth in frustration. "You are a powerful wizard, Albus, but you are a useless Healer! My qualifications are well and good but I don't specialize in this type of damage."

"Scars that can be easily hidden are acceptable if it means the boy remains safe. Why I myself have—"

"—Are you even listening to me, you infernal man? The Mirror of Erised—Merlin knows what it was doing here to begin with—is a powerful thing; it was powerful the day it was made hundreds of years ago and it was powerful the day it tore the Third Floor's East Corridor to shreds. The wild magic marked the boy—burned him, cut him…I haven't a clue. The longer we wait the less likely the damage will be reversible."

"And I don't think you understand the gravity of the situation. Healer Aaron Redhall, Healer Reah Kimble, Healer Tirris Fern—all suspected Death Eaters at the end of the war. They all suffered when the Dark Lord fell and they would all have ready access to a defenseless Harry Potter."

"Ask yourself this, who are you really worried about? The Boy-Who-Lived or young Harry?"

"It is not so simple, Poppy."

"Only because you refuse to make it so. Now, you will allow me to owl another Healer or Heaven help me I'll douse you with so much sleeping potions you'll be lucky if you wake to see the end of term!"

Albus paused, his silence heavy as he weighed the situation. "Very well, Poppy, but I trust you remember the risks involved."

"With my life, Albus. I remember the Oaths I have made."

Albus tilted his head graciously as he conceded the matter.

"…now…get out of my infirmary! There's work to be done."

Harry's thin thread with consciousness snapped. It wouldn't be neither the first time nor the last he'd grasp at that little vestige of awareness.

"…Healer Pomfrey, you weren't joking…"

"Heaven's not…"

"…Mer-rlin, w-what did this?"

"I can't release the complete story but it was wild magic, very old and very explosive."

"….Merlin."

Darkness once more invaded.

A young high pitched voice whispered. "L-look a-at the messss y-you made. Got me and Li worried out of our m-mind, y-you st-stupid b-boy. W-Wake up soon." The girl sniffed.

Harry drifted. Hazy images, reality blended in with dreams seamlessly.

"Lily, take Harry and go! It's him! Go! Run! I'll hold him off—"

"Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead —

Harry screamed.

"…hold him!"

"The other bottle!"

"…What's wrong?"

"You can't expect for someone in Mr. Potter's condition to react all that well to all that wild magic in his system." A by now familiar voice snapped.

"…Why did he scream?"

A soft hand smoothed out ruffled black locks. "…We can barely predict what happened to him physically…Mentally, we're very much in the dark till he wakes."

"I tell you Petunia, that nephew of yours isn't normal. Now, forgive me for being crude but some babes should have been snuffed in the cradle. Lord knows you've done your best but bad blood will show."

Mother stood before a madman. In his hospital bed Harry curled up, stretching the tender skin on his still healing back. Steady hands descended on his sleeping form, guiding him back on his stomach.

"Not Harry! Please…have mercy…have mercy…"

Such horrible laughter.

It was alright, Harry thought to nightmares that were worse because they were memories. She didn't have to sound so terrified. There wasn't any mercy given that night but Harry survived. He lived.

That was when Harry heard the most horrible sound of all. The dull thud made as his mother's body fell uselessly. Such terrible laughter.

"…have mercy…"

"…have mercy."

"Madam Pomfrey? I think he's waking!"

"Hold his head…eyes unfocused—on his side! He's going into seizure!"

"...Steady! Everyone—out! Albus, so help me Merlin go run the school and leave me be!"

"Easy, child…" A voice murmured softly, hands smoothing pained lines.

S

"H-Hi." Padma had never looked so pale. Nervously she shuffled forward before sitting tentatively on a nearby chair. Smiling weakly she said, "Brought your homework."

One too thin hand rubbed the bridge of his nose, his head tilted to stare at the ceiling. "I never figured you'd be one to be easily scared."

Padma flushed indignantly. "Well excuse me! Let's see you spend a mo-month waiting for your friend to w-wake up!"

Irritably she smoothed her already pristine robe, letting an uncomfortable silence settle between them.

"…Will you tell me the truth?"

"W-What?...of course."

"You promise?"

Confused but serious Padma nodded. "I swear it."

Harry finally titled his head to look at her, hands digging into the mattress to pull himself to a sitting position. "Conjure two mirrors."

Padma's wand halted mid-motion, "We haven't learned to conjure."

"Transfigure it then."

She rolled her eyes, transfiguring an empty bottle and forgotten glass into two simple mirrors, a little more foggy but easily an achievement for someone her age.

"Give me your wand for a second." Harry held his hand out. He tapped the two mirror, frowning in concentration as the mirror smoothed out, its simple frame straightening and its reflection clearing.

"Help me take my shirt off."

"Wha—!"

"Shush!" Harry chided, pausing to hear the tell-tale click of the nurse's heels. "I've hardly had a second to myself. If it isn't Madam Pomfrey its someone else clucking about."

"Sorry. Mind repeating the question? I don't think I heard you right."

Harry sighed. "My back was…hurt. They won't let me look at it and I can't turn to see it myself. They didn't even want to tell me how long I've been out."

Padma glanced nervously at the closed door leading to Madam Pomfrey's office. "Sure we should be doing this?"

Harry threw the closed door a frustrated glare. "They've had their chance to tell me what's wrong. I don't know what they're waiting for, s'not like its going to change anything."

She didn't say anything else as she helped pull off his shirt.

"Stand behind me and hold the mirror up so I can catch the reflection."

Once Padma moved into position the startled cry did nothing to reassure him. "Oh…oh, Harry…"

And then Harry saw what had made her cry out. He didn't blame her. It was a network of fine iridescent blue lines, curling and twinning around each other. They gleamed like new scar tissue in the faint light and though no wider than a centimeter in any one place they covered his whole back before disappearing into his hairline and down his pajama bottoms. Even as fine as the marks were they still covered a little less than half of the surface of his back.

Harry sighed again, content to let Padma gently pull the mirror from lax hands and pull his shirt back over his head.

"You all right?"

Shrugging Harry gingerly settled back on his side. "They're still healing."

Padma awkwardly padded his hand before clutching it in her own.

"What are they saying?"

"…There were rumors in the beginning, everything from you being attacked by hired assassins to a Dark ritual gone wrong. Most just think you were practicing some advanced magic in the wrong room. Hogwarts is famous for housing loads of magical items. They were also saying it had something to do with whatever was being kept on the Third Floor but the area's been completely blocked. What's his name, your roommate…Grant and his friend were caught trying to sneak up there. Everyone knows the Weasley twins made a go at it too but no one knows how they snuck away. You've been unconscious for so long…they said you were dying. But at least that was a step up from the beginning when they said you were dead, back when no one was allowed to see you."

"And you very nearly where, Mr. Potter. I see you've taken it upon yourself to visit your friend Ms. Patil."

Padma blushed but didn't move from her spot. "Sorry, ma'am, but I had to see him for myself."

"Understandable, however I must ask you to leave my dear. Dinner's about to begin and Mr. Potter isn't as well as he's pretenting."

"I'll see you later Harry."

Harry sighed passively as he allowed Madam Pomfrey to fuss over him for a second before much to his surprise, she settled on Padma's empty chair.

"I'm afraid Mr. Potter that we will be enjoying each other's company for at least another week. You've slept for a long time and the magic running through your system taxed your body. You'll need to build up a bit more of your strength and body mass before I let you leave."

Harry hadn't really expected otherwise.

"Now, child, I ask that you pay close attention to what I say. I am a Healer first and foremost, bound by the Magical Oaths made at the time of my induction. Those Oaths are always with me, binding me to my patients. But those Oaths must also be reciprocated…acknowledged by those under my care for them to work as they must."

He let his head fall back with a thud, giving a sideway glance to his bedside reading material, A Healer's Guide. He'd skimmed through it but hadn't understood what the Nurse had been trying to say. Why she'd avoided telling him anything about his condition. For whatever reason, she couldn't.

"I feel like an idiot."

Madam Pomfrey gave the boy a sympathetic smile. "You would have no doubt figured out what you wanted by yourself sooner or later. Children…"She mused with a fond smile.

"Then Healer Pomfrey, under your sworn Oath, what can tell me about my condition?"

"Oath sworn, I answer. With the destruction of the enchanted item—one Mirror of Erised—a large magical discharge was released. The wild magic struck your back and acted as an infection on your system…Imagine the wild magic as a sort of virus that enters your body. It will try and assimilate itself into you but because it doesn't belong there to begin with your body naturally tries to fight it. The infection isn't in any spell-structure so we can't reverse it, we had to wait for you to fight it off on your own. However the longer you fight the more likely it becomes that you'll lose—and child, a month was asking entirely too much of your body. So the only way we could help you was bleeding you magically. The original entry wounds were the most heavily saturated areas so we had to keep them open. We bleed as much magic as we could but circumstances prevented us from having a specialized Healer on hand—without someone trained we risk bleeding your own defenses instead of the wild magic. We tried to keep scarring to a minimum but unfortunately a discoloration of your skin's pigmentation occurred."

So far, not bad. Admittedly Harry would have been a whole lot more concerned if he hadn't already overcome it.

"And can I expect any side-effects?"

"No more than one would expect from cursed scars." Madam Pomfrey added, pointedly glancing at his forehead. "They'll heal a bit more but I wouldn't expect much else. The scars themselves shouldn't bother you but I do warn you they might be sensitive to certain types of magic…Suppose that all forms of magic have their own wavelength. Healing, Earth, Fire, Death—things of that sort. The Cursed Scar left on you by the Killing Curse has the potential to make you sensitive to death energies—something I should hope you haven't encountered yet at this stage in your education. In the same way the scars on your back has the potential to react to whatever specific type of magic discharged by the Mirror. The Mirror itself was composed of a wide gamut of magics—too many for me to justifiably expose you to."

Harry nodded pensively, "Thank you for telling me."

"It is nothing less than what I'm bound to as a Healer." She said once more before smoothing his hair and rising. Harry didn't protest her touch; he had a feeling he'd been subjected to it for a month as it was.

TBC….

S

30 April 2007

A/N: I'm not dead! Anyway…sorry?

Thanks Krimzonrayne for my 1000th review and everyone else, some of your reviews are really…wow. Scarily wow…

And I guess I should remind everyone that this is NOT a DeathEaterHarry! Or a new Dark Lord Harry. Just a powerfulHarry! that has different plans. As for the title "Child of Mercy" to those who don't understand yet, I'll explain it soon enough.